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Congress Chides DoD For Mi-17 Purchase

Helicopters Intended For Use In Afghanistan

Two Congressmen have taken the Department of Defense to task for its decision to purchase 10 Russian-built Mi-17 helicopters next year as it helps to create an Afghanistani Air Force. The Pentagon has reportedly already paid $648 million to buy or refurbish 31 of the aircraft.

Mi-17s In Afghanistan File Photo

U.S. Senators Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT) said the government should reconsider and purchase U.S.-built aircraft. The Washington Post quotes Shelby as saying "The Mi-17 program either has uncoordinated oversight or simply none at all ... The results have led to massive waste, cost overruns, schedule delays, safety concerns and major delivery problems."

The Mi-17 helicopters have been in use for years in Afghanistan, and General Mohammed Dawran, chief of the Afghan air corps, said retraining the pilots, many of whom are in their 40's and "set in their ways," would be difficult. Brigadier General Michael Borea, the U.S. General in charge of rebuilding the Afghan air corps, said the Mi-17's are well suited to the area, and that the Senators need to "get beyond the fact that it's Russian."

File Photo

Fox News reports that Shelby and Dodd say the lack of competition has allowed Russian defense contractors to sharply increase their prices.



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